Richmond Astronomical Society

May 2014 Board Meeting minutes

Aug 14th, 2014 | By | Category: Board Meetings

RAS Board Meeting May 19, 2014


President Jim Browder called the meeting to order at 7:05 pm.


Attendees (10):

  • Jim Browder, President
  • Dave Medici, Vice President
  • Jim Blowers, Treasurer
  • Chris McCann, Secretary
  • John Raymond, Observatory Director
  • Ken Wilson
  • Betty Wilson
  • Prashant Reddy
  • Bill Newman
  • Gary Cowardin


Missing (1):

  • David Walton


Secretary’s report given by Chris McCann

  • February’s board meeting minutes were discussed and accepted after minor changes.

Treasurer’s report given by Jim Blowers

  • Balance Summary         (as of 2/17/2014):               (as of 5/19/2014):
  • General Fund:                       7566.09                               7335.07
  • Observatory Fund:                   216.08                                 197.93
  • TOTAL:                                7782.17                             7533.00
  • Checking Account:               2683.84                             2434.60
  • Savings Account:                 2861.32                             2861.39
  • Certificate of Deposit:          2237.01                             2237.01
  • Pay Pal Acct:                               0.00                                    0.00
  • TOTAL:                                 7782.17                               7533.00


After a brief discussion, the treasurer’s report was accepted by the board. It was discussed that the RAS fiscal year is from October to September.

There are 52 members who have paid dues. Twelve (13) are observatory members.


Observatory Report – later in meeting and notes


Library Report given by Jim Browder (for Virginia)

  • All is well at the Richmond Alarm Company.
  • Cabinets are almost full. We may consider purchasing another book case.


Education / Outreach Report :

Events (between mid-February and mid-May) at

  • SMV – relatively well, good attendance, good telescope coverage
  • Belmead – 1 really good night, “need weather to be more cooperative”; next event will be June 28
  • Westover Hills Library – very interested crowd
  • Astronomy Day – good turnout and good RAS coverage; thanks to Prashant – good planning
  • Powhatan State Park – 6 very enthusiastic visitors; next event will be June 28, expecting 150 campers
  • Additional upcoming outreach contact – John Raymond


Old Business

  • Launch from Wallops Island presently scheduled for June 10, to take supplies to ISS


New Business

  • Discussion about storing some of the RAS equipment at Belmead. Will we need to purchase storage shed? Or storage in an interior room? Is there a concern about security at the location? It sounds like “lots of promise” for this endeavor. Possibly set up a pier at Belmead. Jim Browder is going to discuss the options with the personnel at Belmead.
  • 501(c)3 filing made to the IRS (declaring less than $50,000 gross revenue)
  • Astronomical League Ballot – RAS unanimously voted to support John Jardine Goss for President (2014-2016) and William Bogardus for Vice-President (2014-2016). Both candidates were unopposed for their office. Ballot was mailed May 20.
  • VAAS will be in Norfolk/Chesapeake this fall. Plans and date TBD.
  • Construction on the hospice center (expected to continue till May 2015) has begun adjacent to the observatory property and the construction company has asked to use/lease RAS observatory property for storage of equipment and construction trailers. As of the time of this meeting, we did not yet have a specific proposal from the company. A lease agreement will be drafted which Phil Roberts will review and clean-up for legal precision. Phil has agreed to help wherever he could. Our insurance agency has also been contacted to determine what ramifications there are concerning our insurance. A response has not yet been received.

The board had a very involved hour-long pro/con discussion, allowing all board members to have an opportunity to voice their opinions, concerns, and questions. Our decision to accept the offer (including compensation) will be based upon a vote within a few days after our board discussion.

Discussion points:

  • RAS must allow the construction crew to ‘double lock’ our security chain.
  • Insurance agent advised RAS that no changes are needed to our policy, but will need proof of insurance from the construction company.
  • RAS will ask for a monthly $500 fee. Will this affect our 501(c)3? It should not since we will not top our maximum revenue limit.
  • RAS will agree that individual members cannot personally benefit if any agreement is made.
  • The plan is to allow trailers to park on the observatory property.   Discussion items (with no names):
  • Concern about dust and dirt entering the observatory. It is not an air tight building.
  • Concern about possible cracking of foundation and building structure due to motion of heavy equipment.
  • The cable to the roof may be a hazard to people on site.
  • Driveway must be left unblocked. RAS members must always be allowed access to building.
  • Flow of rainwater may be affected due to change of ground slope.
  • Concrete entrance ramp may be damaged, and must be fixed if damaged
  • Should we require them to use back entrance only?
  • We need agreement for repairing land or fence if there is any damage.
  • Can we ask for possible future improvements to the land after the equipment is eventually removed?
  • Make sure expectations of both parties are clear and understood.
  • This sounds like a “rush job”, not allowing us much time to consider all issues.
  • We should not allow heavy equipment from traveling through the fenced-in area on a daily basis.
  • RAS should only allow equipment that fits through gate. RAS should require that no alterations to be done to fence or gate, except to fix damages.
  • Photos need to be taken of fences, gates, road, building, and land before any equipment are allowed access to RAS property.
  • Allow the construction company to use lot as long as the RAS property is in equal or improved conditions when they leave RAS property.
  • RAS has the right to evict the construction company if they are uncooperative with agreements.
  • Consider what actions RAS may wish to take if the construction company makes an offer to purchase the land. Can we agree to any type of sale offer?


  • A motion was made to proceed with negotiations until we get an offer. Updates to the final draft and the vote will be made through email in the near future. Motion voted on and passed.


  • Official voting record whether to accept or reject the draft agreement:

Ken Wilson – accept

Betty Wilson – accept

John Raymond – accept

David Medici – accept

Jim Blowers – reject

David Walton – accept

Bill Newman – accept

Chris McCann – accept

Prashant Reddy – accept

Gary Cowardin – reject

Jim Browder – no vote


Next Board meeting will be Monday, August 18, 2014 at Extra Billy’s at 7pm. If you want to come early for dinner, come by at 6pm.  


  • Meeting was adjourned at 8:45 pm.

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